The 2009 Powerhouse Issue – Pt. 2

by Chicago Agent

Iris Ade
Prudential Preferred Properties

With over 25 years of marketing experience under her belt, Iris Ade has spent the last nine in the real estate industry. As a top residential producer from 2005 to 2008, Ade generated over $300 million in sales in Chicago. “My goal is to transcend the ordinary,” says Ade. Placed in the top 1 percent of Realtors in residential sales in Chicago and named the Top Residential Producer in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood by Chicago Association of Realtors, Ade is by no means ordinary. This April, Ade created a new client appreciation program, and also launched a new Web site (irisade.com) that aims to provide up-to-date housing market information to her clients while helping them realize their real estate goals. As her business expands to Chicago’s Near North, Bronzeville, Hyde Park and Kenwood communities, Ade plans to also expand her team to cater to her growing clientele and continue to build relationships with those she serves.

Jennifer Ames
The Jennifer Ames Team 
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
The president of Coldwell Banker’s The Jennifer Ames Team, Jennifer Ames has consistently ranked among Chicago’s top agents year after year for closed sales volume. In 2008, Ames was named No. 22 among all Coldwell Banker agents throughout North America. Though her mother has sold real estate for over 30 years, Ames didn’t immediately jump into the business. After focusing on investment banking and film production, Ames was looking for a career that was more entrepreneurial, and real estate was the right fit. “It was a great direction for me,” says Ames. “I have the skills, the relationships and the energy.” Ames’ overall goal is to be the “go to” resource for real estate solutions, and to achieve this she attends several conferences each year and works with a real estate coach. “Like an athlete, I am constantly working on improving my sales and management skills in order to remain competitive,” says Ames. A national speaker and industry leader, Ames makes regular presentations to audiences throughout North America. In November 2009, she will be presenting at NAR’s annual convention in San Diego.

Jenny Sepulveda
Managing Broker/Team Leader
Keller Williams

After purchasing real estate of her own at an early age, Jenny Sepulveda knew she had found her ideal career. In the real estate industry for nine years, Sepulveda is committed to Keller Williams and her main goal of expanding the company in a number of ways. First, construction at Keller Williams’ Lincoln Park office is near completion and will offer employees brand new work spaces. In addition, Sepulveda hopes to grow the Lincoln Park office to over 200 agents in an effort to make it the top realty company in the area. Sepulveda is also the founder and president of Helping Hands Forever, a special events marketing firm that focuses on raising money for nonprofit organizations. As she continues to expand Keller Williams through the opening of new locations, Sepulveda will continue sharing her enthusiasm with agents. “Motivating and inspiring agents is my biggest passion,” Sepulveda says. “I feel like I have succeeded when they succeed.”

Jeff Metz, Jim Merrion
Senior Franchise Sales Consultant, Regional Director
RE/MAX Northern Illinois

Jim Merrion, CRB, CRS, GRI is a third-generation Realtor with 36 years of real estate experience under his belt. A past president of IAR and past director, regional vice president for NAR, Merrion has run the RE/MAX Northern Illinois Region for the past seven years. Jeff Metz, formerly a general manager for Starbucks Coffee Company in Chicago, has been with the region in franchise development since 2006. Both Merrion and Metz agree that expanding RE/MAX leadership now is just as important as becoming No. 1 in the first place. With 140 independently owned and operating offices and 3,000 agents that lead in experience and production, both Merrion and Metz have their eye on the future. They plan to grow RE/MAX to its maximum potential in the city by selling additional franchises to progressive individuals and converting real estate companies that desire to be the best. Their work is paying off, as market share reports from Midwest Real Estate Data show RE/MAX as the only top competitor to experience a market share gain in the city of Chicago for first quarter 2009.

John E. Neal II
Custom Real Estate Group

John E. Neal II, owner and CEO of Custom Real Estate Group, is in the business of helping people. After seven years in the industry, he learned that it is possible to make money and provide valuable assistance to clients at the same time. “That is just amazing to me,” Neal says. “It’s not like we are selling them something they don’t need, so I feel good at the end of a transaction knowing that I did something that my client will benefit from for a lifetime.” Nominated for Volunteer of the Year in Schaumburg in 2008, Neal devotes much of his time outside work to organizations such as the American Cancer Society and Children’s Memorial Hospital. In the future, Neal hopes to grow his companies with hard-working employees so he can continue offering honest and fair service to his clients. “It is an amazing feeling to know that something you did actually helped someone in a positive way financially.”

Leslie Struthers
Vice President
Guaranteed Rate
Though Leslie Struthers just joined Guaranteed Rate as a vice president this past May, she has been working in the mortgage industry for 18 years. Named a top producer every year for the last 10 years, Struthers is on track to nab that title again with Guaranteed Rate. “The people are great,” says Struthers of her new location. “I also have the authority to totally serve my borrowers to the maximum without the constraints that can happen when working with a bank.” Struthers has worked at a variety of mortgage companies, and she is especially excited that Guaranteed Rate allows her to do her own brokering. While acknowledging there is a lot to learn in this new role, Struthers is up for the challenge. “Where the market’s at and what’s happening with all the changes, I would say I’m at the best shop to be able to weather the storm,” says Struthers. In her rare free time, Struthers enjoys working on her garden, and travels to Guatemala every year to work with indigenous villages. 

Loren Stanton,
Candy Scott
President/Creative Director, 
Vice President/Design
Stanton Interior Concepts
With a background in the branding and design industry, Loren Stanton founded Stanton Interior Concepts in 2001, and immediately began creating award-winning sale centers and interior gallery spaces for new home developments. The president and creative director brought in Candy Scott, who had her own successful residential interior design firm, in early 2006. As vice president of design, she has won numerous awards for her model merchandising achievements with Stanton. The combination of Stanton and Scott has allowed the company to offer branding, special effects and interactive offerings fused with elegant and timeless interiors. The LEED-accredited interior design firm won an Agents’ Choice Award from Chicago Agent when River East Lofts was named Favorite Sales Center. With the goal to always exceed current and future clients’ expectations, Stanton and Scott are paving the way in the interior design field and receiving national recognition for their work.

Marc Churchill
Vice President
National City Mortgage 

Marc Churchill, VP at National City Mortgage, started his career in Chicago in commercial banking. Soon after he realized that sales was where he belonged, Churchill officially began his career in the mortgage industry in 1997. Every year, Churchill is named to the Circle of Distinction within his company, and last year he was pleased to have won the IMBA Golf Outing, completing the “four-peat” of that event. In 2009, Churchill’s focus is on working directly with buyers and agents to successfully close both purchase and refinance transactions. Focusing more on the consumer, he enjoys being the guy at the end of the day that “gets a pat on the back or is the throat to grab.” His No. 1 goal this year is to “continue to support the real estate professionals that are still making it happen during this challenging and ever-changing environment.” When he is not in meetings with agents, developers or clients, Churchill can be found with his wife Denise at their lake house in New Buffalo, on the golf course, at Wrigley Field or playing in a softball league with his friends. Additionally, Churchill and Denise are excited to welcome their first child later in the year.

Michelle Bobart
Mobium Mortgage

Michelle Bobart, president of Mobium Mortgage, consistently ranks as one of Chicago’s top loan originators. An 11-year industry veteran, Bobart exudes passion for the lending profession by continuing to elevate the bar to deliver extraordinary service levels, and her financial insight carries through a wide spectrum of transactions. “In 2009, I view my role primarily as an educator,” says Bobart. “As our lending landscape continues to change, my clients and Realtor partners must have clarity and be well informed to make good decisions.” Bobart’s easygoing style instantly puts first-time homebuyers at ease and her outside-the-box thinking allows her to find solutions for the most complex investor transactions. In her downtime, Bobart combines her love of outdoor adventure and travel. She has enjoyed the views from 19,500 feet in Tanzania summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, while Peru’s Machu Picchu is on this year’s travel agenda.

Millie Rosenbloom
Broker Associate
Baird & Warner

As a 26-year veteran of the industry, Millie Rosenbloom has a lot on her plate. She is currently finishing up a sales program at Vetro condominiums at 611 S. Wells, as well as the last sale of Mansions on the Park in the Gold Coast. She also recently listed a 5,500-square-foot condominium in a building designed by Edgar Miller, which features original stained glass windows and artistic tiling. Rosenbloom was ranked No. 2 in company-wide sales for Baird & Warner in 2008. For 2009, she currently holds the No. 1 spot in sales and units. When she’s not busy with the Chicago Association of Realtors, where she served on the committee for the CAR Sales Awards in 2008 and currently serves on the Inaugural Committee, Rosenbloom has an equally active social life. Whether entertaining friends, at the theater or spending time with her husband and two dogs, Rosenbloom is always keeping busy. In the future, she hopes to continue growing her business, negotiating transactions and staying active with CAR. 

Sandy Marshall
Marshall Creative
Sandy Marshall’s work can be seen on almost every popular form of electronic media. His company, Marshall Creative, is a leading marketing agency in the real estate world, producing everything from podcasts to original Web sites to customized comedic live events. Marshall created and hosts the PERL podcast, and his team also creates and produces viral short films and social networking seminars. “My company’s approach is unique, interactive, experiential and informative,” says Marshall. “We truly help our clients differentiate themselves from the standard real estate companies of the past.” His 13 years in the industry, combined with comedic experience in Schadenfreude and at The Second City, provide Marshall with the knowledge and creativity necessary to run a successful marketing business. In the future, Marshall hopes to use new technologies and social networking tools to his advantage to “help loan officers, real estate agents and developers realize the importance of staying on the cutting edge of marketing.” Visit marshall-creative.com for more information.

Sean J. Conlon
Conlon: A Real Estate Company

Everyone familiar with Chicago real estate in the 1990s has heard the name Sean Conlon. In a single decade, this Irish immigrant changed the way real estate was sold in Chicago. By the time Conlon was 27, he was selling hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate each year. Conlon opened Sussex & Reilly, which he grew from 10 employees to 300 employees and $1 billion in sales annually. After selling Sussex & Reilly twice, Conlon started Conlon & Co, A Real Estate Merchant Bank; purchased Near North Title with a partner; co-founded Connaught Real Estate Finance, a mezzanine financing group; founded Conlon & Co Ireland, a property fund; and now he’s back for an encore having co-founded a boutique real estate brokerage company with Rich Kasper and Tim Sheahan, Conlon: A Real Estate Company (CRE). It’s Conlon’s goal that CRE creates a back-to-basics approach that is both high-tech and high-touch. Open only a month, CRE already has 50 agents and 250 listings.

Shane O’Neill
Area Sales Manager
Fifth Third Mortgage

After joining Fifth Third Mortgage just 20 short months ago, Shane O’Neill was appointed vice president. O’Neill’s current focus is building an elite team of loan originators who will strengthen relationships with the company’s Realtor partners, as well as make Fifth Third a great place to bank and obtain a mortgage. “With loan qualifications tougher today than in past years,” says O’Neill, “there is a need in the industry to enhance the customer experience. We want our borrowers to be customers for life. We’re taking the steps to make that happen.” With 20 years of experience in the industry, O’Neill’s primary goal is to “take Fifth Third to the No. 1 retail market share in Chicagoland.” When O’Neill finds free time, he spends 100 percent of it with his friends and family.

Shimmy Braun
Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate

Named Guaranteed Rate’s top producer in 2008, 11-year industry vet Shimmy Braun plans to stay on top by maintaining the same level of commitment to the consumer that he has always shown. Braun was also named 15th in the country and second in Illinois last year for the $124 million in loan volume he produced. “I am very proud that I, along with Guaranteed Rate, have been able to consistently grow in volume even through the toughest times in my industry’s history,” says Braun. Driven by his wife and three (soon to be four) children, Braun feels “blessed” to work with an amazing group of Realtors, attorneys and financial planners, as well as the same team at Guaranteed Rate for six years. “They have been nothing but supportive throughout the years,” says Braun of his team. “I owe it to them and to my clients to always service them the best that I can.”

Tammy K. Hajjar
Retail Sales Manager
Bank of America Home Loans

For Tammy Hajjar, there is more to the real estate and lending industries than what meets the eye. “I want to bring a ‘human touch’ back into our line of work,” says Hajjar. “The trust needs to be reestablished that we’re people helping other people.” Throughout her five years in the business, Hajjar has learned the importance of forming relationships with clients on both a professional and personal level. “It’s an incredible feeling to help someone into a new home; to be a resource that they can rely on and trust throughout the process and for years after,” she says. This caring attitude is what helped Hajjar increase her business by 54 percent year-over-year since 2006. Hajjar serves as the 2009 secretary of the Chicago chapter of Women’s Council of REALTORS® and volunteers time to a Chicago-area family support program, Family Focus, Inc. Hajjar looks forward to growing her influence in the industry, using her personal motto: “Have fun. Make money. Make a difference.”

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